Why are plastic surgery apps targeting children?

11 August 2017

Child using a mobile phone on a benchBy Plastic Surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer.

Plastic surgery has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, a trend which I encourage as cosmetic procedures can have many positive benefits for patients. However, with this increased popularity, we also see people cynically exploiting the boom. This includes untrained doctors and “professionals” providing Botox and fillers, as well as surgeons making ‘deals’, such as 2-4-1 on procedures.

While much has been done to regulate the cosmetic surgery industry, more needs to be done. This is exemplified by the rise in the number of plastic surgery apps targeted at young children.

Plastic Surgery Princess

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics have recently conducted a report on the issue of children and plastic surgery, believe that the rise in the number of apps tackling the subject of plastic surgery, especially those targeting young children, are leading to a generation of children growing up to have issues surrounding body confidence.

The Council wants social media platforms and app stores to investigate these apps and to have them taken down, as they argue that these apps create warped and inaccurate perceptions of beauty.

Examples of these apps, which present themselves as mobile games, include Plastic Surgery Princess and Plastic Surgery Simulator, which allow you to alter images of your own face and body to see how cosmetic procedures may affect your appearance. Another app, Dream Cosmetic Surgeon, tasks you with operating on a cartoon woman that the game has deemed fat and ugly. These apps insidiously encourage younger people to notice potential faults in their appearance, without explaining that there’s not one definition of beauty, but several.

A petition

Endangered Bodies, an international initiative, ran a petition which garnered more than 20,000 signatures requesting that Apple, Amazon and Google remove these apps from their app stores. They believe that these apps encourage the mindset that only through striving to look beautiful can one be happy and successful.

They also want greater regulation within the industry, something that I’ve been supporting for several years. This includes a ban on walk-in procedures for those under 18, and lawfully regulating cosmetic surgery in the same way as the tattoo and tannings industries are. They also believe that making dermal fillers prescription only could also discourage those under 18 from undergoing cosmetic surgery.

I believe that the plastic surgery industry is in need of tighter regulation, especially against rogue and unqualified plastic surgeons who are more likely to perform procedures on younger people with no questions asked, but I am also aware that we can’t fully ban plastic surgery for under 18s, as procedures such as otoplasty can reduce childhood bullying, and increase confidence.

As with all things in the plastic surgery industry, these things need to be discussed on a case-by-case basis, though I think it’s incredibly important for parents to monitor what apps their children are accessing, and explain to them that there are several types of beauty, and not just those you see so often in the media.

If you believe that a plastic surgery procedure could improve your self-esteem and confidence, get in touch today. At Harley St Aesthetics, I personally oversee every step of my clients’ plastic surgery journey, which means I can suggest the best course of action; the comfort, happiness, and safety of my clients is paramount.